Small helicopter crashes into South County pond

Federal Aviation Administration crash investigators arrive at Worden’s Pond in South Kingstown to look into the crash of a small helicopter April 9, 2024. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries and were rescued by a fisherman. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A small helicopter testing experimental equipment crashed into Worden’s Pond in South Kingstown Tuesday morning, the pilot and a passenger were quickly rescued by a Good Samaritan fisherman as the craft sank to the bottom, police said.

Both the pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. The pilot was treated on the scene, and the female passenger taken to nearby South County Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, said South Kingstown Police Chief Matthew Moynihan.

“They were doing some downward testing, some sensor testing over the water. What was described now is that the helicopter was flying low and exactly what the cause of the crash was, we don’t know, we’re investigating that,” said Moynihan.

He said police, fire and EMS crews responded to multiple 9-1-1 calls of a helicopter in the pond at about 8:24 A.M.

“There’s approximately 20 gallons of gas on the plane,” said state Environmental Police Chief Dean Hoxsie. “It’s a small amount of gas on the top, it will dissipate on this perfect, sunny date, perfect for that. There’s no environmental hazard at this time.”

The craft was described as a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, built in 2023, belonging to Nantucket Helicopters, and leased to North Kingstown – based REGENT Craft, Inc., a maker of electric seagliders.

Chief Hoxsie said the helicopter was fully submerged in about 13 feet of water, and that a DEM diver would try to activate the craft’s pontoon in the hopes of partially lifting it to the surface. Barring that, he said, the owners would hire a salvage firm to remove the craft from the pond.

A Rhode Island Environmental Police boat returns from the crash site on Worden’s Pond of a small, submerged helicopter April 9, 2024. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News